I’ve written a fair bit about Jeff Notrica and his properties here in East Atlanta. A quick recap since it’s been a while – Notrica is the owner of an outfit called Inman Park Properties, and through it and a bunch of other LLCs he owns a substantial chunk of our commercial Village. His holdings include buildings that house some of our best assets – Holy Taco, The Midway Pub, The Glenwood, etc. – but his reputation around here is as a guy who is more than willing to buy up properties and let them rot.
The most infamous example is the John B. Gordon School, which he bought from Atlanta Public Schools about ten years ago with the promise of turning it into lofts. Never happened and the building sat neglected, abandoned and rotting. Many if not most of the vacant buildings and lots in East Atlanta Village belong to Notrica.
But a funny thing has been happening of late – foreclosures. In March, Notrica lost the Gordon School, which he had apparently put a lot of debt against (I’ve been told north of $4 million on a property he paid $200,000 for and never developed). In April, it was an eyesore of an old convenience store, a parking lot and a couple of vacant lots on the edge of the Village. Just this week he lost the eyesore that used to be East Atlanta Lock & Key and apparently (I haven’t confirmed it) another vacant lot on Flat Shoals. This month’s legal ads say another parking lot and another vacant lot are up for foreclosure in June.
And that’s just here in East Atlanta. Some cursory looking-around suggests a good number of Notrica foreclosures of late happening in Fulton County as well.
I think it’s fair to say Notrica operates on somewhat of a financial tightrope. He owns a lot of properties, takes out a lot of mortgages on them and takes his time paying property taxes. DeKalb County online records show that he still owes more than $123,000 in 2008 property taxes just in East Atlanta. But as late as August of last year he still owed $130,000 in 2007 taxes, so it seems to be how he operates.
But maybe the “credit crunch” has caught up with him for real now. He’s gone from getting tax-sale notices that are ultimately resolved to actually losing a significant number of properties to foreclosure. And I don’t guess that would be surprising – the days of easy debt and using a property as a bank are gone for now.
I’ve had brief conversations with writers from the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who seemed interested in the Notrica story, but to this point I haven’t seen anything published. His may simply be a tale of the real estate downturn, or it could be something more. Is it normal to take out $600,000 in debt on a small, unpaid parking lot with no development value that the county says is worth $127,000? Maybe so. But I think there’s a good story in there somewhere.
As for East Atlanta, there’s a new sign up seeking buyers for the Gordon School, and no doubt the banks that took back the other properties will be looking to offload them quickly. We can only hope they get bought by somebody who intends to do something other than let them rot.